Susy’s story: This is a first in a series of stories following Sparks High School senior Susy Meza. Susy, 17, will graduate in June. She is the student body president, played sports and was on the prom committee. She plans to study neuroscience at the University of Nevada, Reno in the fall. The next few months of high school were supposed to be the culmination of all her hard work, and her first slow dance, before life was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Susy Meza was going to dance near a tall cardboard Eiffel Tower on Saturday night.
Instead, Susy was at home, talking to her friends about how great prom would have been.
Susy, 17, is just one the class of 2020 who now marks the culmination of four years of hard work without a senior prom.
There was no “Night in Paris,” the theme of this year’s Sparks High prom.
Susy built up the courage to ask a friend to the April 4 dance, knowing this night was going to be different. It would be at a fancy golf course instead of the school gym, and the prom committee had lined up a DJ from a popular radio station.
The centerpieces on each table would be flowers in vases filled with Orbeez that would light up. And, she was going to make sure the DJ played the 2009 Miley Cyrus hit, “Party in the USA.”
“I was so excited for throwback songs to dance with my friends,” she said.
Instead, the Washoe County School District, like those across the country, canceled proms amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The day Gov. Steve Sisolak announced that schools in Nevada would close was the day Susy was going to shop for her prom dress.
Susy is the student body president, a cheerleader, on the tennis team and was in the middle of her last season of track when everything stopped.
“I have never felt so at home in a place that’s not home,” Susy said of Sparks High.
She rattles off the names of almost every administrator, teacher and staff member who has had an impact on her life.
“The school’s custodian is everyone’s grandma,” she said. “I miss her.”
She was going to buy a gold or red prom dress, to honor the school’s colors, with money she saved working at retailer Party City.
All four years of high school, she has worked a part-time job while balancing the the National Honor Society, playing sports, student council and clubs, including one for math, science and engineering,
But even for a remarkable high-achieving student who will study neuroscience at the University of Nevada, Reno in the fall, asking a boy to prom this year was one of her proudest moments.
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“I decided to break out of my shell,” she said about working up the courage to ask friend Gerardo Guerrero.
She planned an elaborate prom proposal using the school’s annual Mr. Sparks High School pageant, a fundraiser to buy books for children in need. The pageant is attended by the entire school and parents. She got administrators to be part of her plan.
When it came time for a teacher to interviewGerardo, she came from behind stage holding up a sign, “Handshake? Handshake. Hug? Hug. Prom? Prom.”
It’s an inside joke, she explained. He said yes.
“I’ve never gone to a dance with a date,” Susy said. Last year she went with her best friend and danced the night away. But Saturday’s prom was a hard night to miss.
“I was excited for my first slow dance.”
Siobhan McAndrew tells stories about the people of Northern Nevada and covers education in Washoe County. Read her journalism right here. Consider supporting her work by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal.
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